Mar 7, 2017 08:00:16
Ronaldo is just five shy of becoming the tournament's first centurion but Messi has stormed back into contention by netting 10 times in five games
Although it was Lionel Messi who had broken Raul's record of 71 strikes in Europe's premier cup competition in 2014, Ronaldo had stormed past his great rival by netting 16 times during Real Madrid's triumph last season/
That had taken the Portugal superstar to 93 goals in the Champions League proper, 10 ahead of Messi. However, while Ronaldo had a relatively quiet to start to Madrid's bid for a 12th European Cup triumph, netting just twice in six group-stage appearances, Messi caught fire again.
The Argentine kicked off his campaign with three of Barcelona's seven goals in their demolition of Celtic at Camp Nou to take outright possession of the Champions League hat-tricks record that he had shared with Ronaldo.
Messi bagged another treble (his fifth in tournament history) in his next outing, against Manchester City, before scoring again in the return leg at the Etihad. Then, after a double at Celtic Park, and a solitary strike against Borussia Monchengladbach on matchday six, Messi moved to 93 goals, just two behind Ronaldo.
Unusually, both men failed to score when the Champions League resumed after the winter break, with Messi even failing to get a shot on target as Barcelona were sensationally routed 4-0 by Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes.
That remarkable reversal means that Messi must make the most of what is likely to be his final Champions League outing of the season when the Blaugrana host the Ligue 1 titleholders at Camp Nou on Wednesday and the good news is that he is in fine form, having netted twice in Saturday's impressive 5-0 demolition of Celta.
Still, Ronaldo is obviously in a far more favourable position to break the Champions League 100-goal barrier, with Real taking a 3-1 lead into the second leg of their last-16 tie with Napoli at the San Paolo on Tuesday.
However, the four-time Ballon d'Or winner is in the midst of the longest drought of his Champions League career, having gone 523 minutes without finding the back of the net.
So, could we yet be in for another dramatic twist as two of the greatest players of all time to continue their battle to become the first centurion in Champions League history?